Anthony Newley (24 September 1931 – 14 April 1999) was an English actor, singer and songwriter. Newley achieved success as a performer in such diverse fields as rock and roll and stage and screen acting. As a recording artist he enjoyed a dozen Top 40 entries on the UK Singles Chart between 1959 and 1962, including two number one hits. With songwriting partner Leslie Bricusse, Newley penned "Feeling Good", which was popularised by Nina Simone and covered by many other popular artists, as well as the title song of 1964 film Goldfinger (along with John Barry). Bricusse and Newley received an Academy Award nomination for the film score of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971).
The Guinness Book of British Hit Singles & Albums described Newley as "among the most innovative UK acts of the early rock years before moving into musicals and cabaret". Newley was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1989.
24 September 1931
|Died||14 April 1999 (aged 67)|
Jensen Beach, Florida, U.S.
(m. 1956; div. 1963)
(m. 1963; div. 1970)
|Children||5, including Tara and Alexander Newley Sue Newley|
Newley was born in the London district of Hackney, the son of Frances Grace Newley and George Kirby, a shipping clerk. He had five siblings, Maxene (b. 1926), John (b. 1927), Joanne (1928–1965), Linda (b. 1929) and Belinda (b. 1932). He was Jewish through his maternal grandmother. His parents, who had never married, separated during his early childhood, and his aunt and uncle brought him up through unofficial adoption. During the Second World War he was evacuated to a foster home in the country area safe from the Blitz aerial bombing attacks on London.
Although recognised as very bright by his teachers, he was uninterested in school, and by the age of fourteen was working as an office boy for an Advertising Agency in Fleet Street called Hannaford and Goodman. When he read an ad in The Daily Telegraph, headed "Boy Actors Urgently Wanted" he applied to the advertisers, the prestigious Italia Conti Stage School, only to discover that the fees were too high. Nevertheless, after a brief audition, he was offered a job as an office boy on a salary of 30 shillings (£1.50) a week plus tuition at the school. While serving tea one afternoon he caught the eye of producer Geoffrey de Barkus, who cast Newley as "Dusty" in the children's serial, The Adventures of Dusty Bates.
Newley's first major film roles were Dusty Bates in The Adventures Of Dusty Bates (1947) and as Dick Bultitude in Peter Ustinov's Vice Versa (1948) followed by the Artful Dodger in David Lean's Oliver Twist (1948), based on the Charles Dickens novel. He made a successful transition from child star to actor in British films of the 1950s, his early career broken by a spell of national service. During the 1950s he appeared in many British radio programmes, and for a time appeared as Cyril in Floggits starring Elsie and Doris Waters. However, it was probably the film Idol on Parade (1959) that most changed his career direction. In the film, he played a rock singer called up for national service; the story was somewhat inspired by Elvis Presley having recently been drafted for army service in the United States. The 1958 film No Time to Die (also known as Tank Force) cemented Newley's position as a leading screen actor.
Newley's successful pop music career as a vocalist began in May 1959 with the song "I've Waited So Long", a number 3 hit in the UK charts thanks to the exposure it received as being featured in the film Idol on Parade. This was quickly followed by his number 6 hit "Personality" and then two number 1 hits in early 1960: "Why" (originally a 1959 US hit for Frankie Avalon) and "Do You Mind?" (written by Lionel Bart).
The ATV series The Strange World of Gurney Slade (1960) starred Newley, who was also its creator. A comedy series of six half-hour programmes, it develops from an unusual premise: in the opening scene, Newley's character escapes from a television programme which is Gurney Slade itself. The series was quickly moved from a peak-time slot. As a songwriter, he won the 1963 Grammy Award for Song of the Year for "What Kind of Fool Am I?", but he was also well known for "Gonna Build a Mountain", "Once in a Lifetime", "On a Wonderful Day Like Today", "The Joker" and comic novelty songs such as "That Noise" and "The Oompa-Loompa Song", and his versions of "Strawberry Fair" and "Pop Goes the Weasel". He wrote songs that others made hits including "Goldfinger" (the title song of the James Bond film, Goldfinger, music by John Barry), and "Feeling Good", which became a hit for Nina Simone and the rock band Muse, as well as a signature song for singer Michael Bublé. It was featured in a jam recorded live at the Fillmore West for Traffic's 1969 LP Last Exit. It has also been covered by Joe Bonamassa on his album The Ballad of John Henry. His compositions have been recorded by artists as diverse as Harry Connick, Jr. and Mariah Carey.
He wrote ballads, many with Leslie Bricusse, that became signature hits for Sammy Davis Jr., Shirley Bassey and Tony Bennett. During the 1960s he also added his greatest accomplishments on the London West End theatre and Broadway theatre stage, in Hollywood films and British and American television.
With Bricusse he wrote the musical Stop the World – I Want to Get Off, in which he also performed, earning a nomination for a Tony Award for Best Leading Actor in a Musical. A hit in London and on Broadway, it was made into a film version in 1966, in which Newley was unable to star owing to a schedule conflict. The other musicals for which he co-wrote music and lyrics with Bricusse included The Roar of the Greasepaint—the Smell of the Crowd (1965) and Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971), based on the children's book by Roald Dahl.
When he collaborated with Bricusse the two men referred to themselves as the team of "Brickman and Newburg", with "Newburg" concentrating mainly on the music and "Brickman" on the lyrics. Ian Fraser often devised their arrangements. For the songs from Hieronymous Merkin, Newley collaborated with Herbert Kretzmer.
In 1963, Newley had a hit comedy album called Fool Britannia!, the result of improvisational satires of the British Profumo scandal of the time by a team of Newley, his then wife Joan Collins, and Peter Sellers. It peaked at number 10 in the UK Albums Chart in October 1963.
Newley's contributions to Christmas music are highlighted by his rendition of the "Coventry Carol" which appears on many anthologies. He also wrote and recorded a novelty Christmas song called "Santa Claus is Elvis". There is also a notorious album of spoken poetry, the sleeve of which displays Newley and a young model, both nude.
Newley played Matthew Mugg in the original Doctor Dolittle (a difficult experience in part because of the hostility he endured from the lead actor, Rex Harrison) and he also played the repressed English businessman opposite Sandy Dennis in the original Sweet November. He hosted Lucille Ball's character on a whirlwind tour of London in Lucy in London (1966). He performed in the autobiographical, Fellini-esque and X-rated Can Heironymus Merkin Ever Forget Mercy Humppe and Find True Happiness?, which he also directed and co-wrote with Herman Raucher. He appeared as Quilp in Mister Quilp (1975) (based on Dickens's The Old Curiosity Shop), for which he composed some songs ('Love Has the Longest Memory of All'). His last feature role, in the cast of the long-running British TV soap opera EastEnders, was to have been a regular role, but Newley had to withdraw after a few months when his health began to fail.
Despite the fact that such compositions as "What Kind of Fool Am I?" and "The Candy Man" (a US Number One single for Sammy Davis Jr. and the Mike Curb Congregation in 1972) became international hits, Newley had less chart success in the United States as a recording artist, charting on the Billboard Hot 100 with four singles from 1960–62, none reaching higher than number 67. However, he later had a number 12 hit on the Adult Contemporary charts in 1976 with "Teach the Children".
In the 1970s he remained active, particularly as a Las Vegas and Catskills Borscht Belt resort performer, game show panelist (such as on Hollywood Squares) and talk show guest, but his career had begun to flounder. He had taken risks that eventually led to his downfall in Hollywood. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s he worked to achieve a comeback. He briefly appeared on Late Night with David Letterman (when in town to be inducted into the Songwriters' Hall of Fame) to sing the theme to "Viewer Mail". He staged a successful American tour of his Stop The World – I Want To Get Off in 1986–87. The production co-starred a then unknown Suzie Plakson, whom Newley had discovered. The tour yielded her some strong notices and led to a steady career on stage and television. In 1985, he was also featured as the Mad Hatter in Irwin Allen's all-star television adaptation of Alice in Wonderland. In his later years as a mature singer Newley recorded songs from Fiddler on the Roof and Scrooge. He enjoyed his final popular success onstage when he starred in the latter musical which showed in London and toured British cities including Liverpool, Birmingham, Bristol and Manchester, in the 1990s. At the time of his death he had been working on a musical of Shakespeare's Richard III. He died of renal cancer at the age of 67, soon after he had become a grandfather.
Newley was married three times
His second marriage to Ann Lynn from 1956 to 1963 ended in divorce. A son, Simon, was born to them but died in infancy from a congenital infirmity. He then was married to the actress Joan Collins from 1963 to 1970. The couple had two children, Tara Newley and Sacha (Alexander) Newley. Tara became a broadcaster in Britain and Sacha is a renowned portrait artist based in New York City and represented by four paintings in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington. Newley's fourth wife was former air hostess Dareth Rich, and they also had two children, Shelby and Christopher. In an episode of Angela and Friends (Sky One), Tara Newley also mentioned another sister, a third living daughter of Newley.
Newley's stepfather, Ronald Gardner, wound up in Beverly Hills working as a chauffeur but soon ran off with another woman. Newley searched, with the help of a detective, for his biological father, George Kirby, and effected a reunion. Newley bought his father a house in Beverly Hills, in the hope that he would reunite with Grace, but this did not happen.
Newley died on 14 April 1999, in Jensen Beach, Florida, from renal cancer at the age of 67. He had first been diagnosed with cancer in 1985, and it returned in 1997 and spread to his lungs and liver. He was said to have died in the arms of his companion, the designer Gina Fratini. He was survived by his five children, a granddaughter Miel, and his mother Grace, then aged 96, who has subsequently died. Since then two more grandchildren have been born: Weston (Tara's second child) and Ava Grace (Sacha's first, with his wife Angela Tassoni).
Newley's life is the subject of a biography by Garth Bardsley called Stop the World (London: Oberon, 2003).
Amongst the many compilations issued are Anthony Newley: The Decca Years (1959–1964), Once in a Lifetime: The Anthony Newley Collection (1960–71), and Anthony Newley's Greatest Hits (Deram). In May 2010, Stage Door Records released a compilation of unreleased Newley recordings entitled 'Newley Discovered'. The album produced with the Anthony Newley Society and Newley's family contains the concept recordings for Newley's self-penned film musicals Can Heironymus Merkin Ever Forget Mercy Humppe and Find True Happiness?, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory and Mr. Quilp.
Newley was an early influence on the rock musician David Bowie, who was a fan of his. The producer of his first album, Mike Vernon, even described his first impression of Bowie as "a young Anthony Newley".
|1963||Tony Award||Best Author (Musical)||Stop the World – I Want to Get Off||Nominated|
|Best Original Score||Nominated|
|Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical||Nominated|
|1965||Original Score||The Roar of the Greasepaint – The Smell of the Crowd||Nominated|
|Best Direction of a Musical||Nominated|
|Theatre World Award||Best Original Score||Nominated|
|1970||Writers' Guild of Great Britain||Best British Original Screenplay||Can Heironymus Merkin Ever Forget Mercy Humppe and Find True Happiness?||Won|
|1972||Academy Awards||Best Original Score||Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory||Nominated|
"Come with Me (Pure Imagination)" is a song by American music duo Karmin. It was released via Checkbook records on February 19, 2016 as the fourth single from their second studio album based on the zodiac "Leo Rising".The song is a cover remix of Pure Imagination, specifically written for the 1971 American movie Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, by British composers Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley, and sung by Gene Wilder, who played the title character. The 2016 song was written by Amy Heidemann, Leslie Bricusse, Anthony Newley, and Nick Noonan, and produced by the latter. It is the Leo track from Leo Rising.Do You Mind (Anthony Newley song)
"Do You Mind" is a 1960 hit song by English singer Anthony Newley, written by Lionel Bart. "Do You Mind" first charted on the UK Charts on 30 March 1960 where it went to #1.Feeling Good
"Feeling Good" (also known as "Feelin' Good") is a song written by English composers Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse for the musical The Roar of the Greasepaint – The Smell of the Crowd. It was first performed on stage in 1964 by Cy Grant on the UK tour and by Gilbert Price in 1965 with the original Broadway cast.Nina Simone recorded "Feeling Good" for her 1965 album I Put a Spell on You. The song has also been covered by Traffic, Michael Bublé, John Coltrane, George Michael, Victory, Eels, Joe Bonamassa, EDEN, Muse, and Black Cat Bones, among others.Goldfinger (Shirley Bassey song)
"Goldfinger" is the title song from the 1964 James Bond film Goldfinger. Composed by John Barry and with lyrics by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley, the song was performed by Shirley Bassey for the film's opening and closing title sequences, as well as the soundtrack album release. The single release of the song gave Bassey her only Billboard Hot 100 top forty hit, peaking in the Top 10 at No. 8 and No. 2 for four weeks on the Adult Contemporary chart, and in the United Kingdom the single reached No. 21.The song finished at No. 53 in AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs survey of top tunes in American cinema. In 2008, the single was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.How to Murder a Rich Uncle
How to Murder a Rich Uncle is a 1957 British comedy film directed by Nigel Patrick and starring Patrick, Wendy Hiller, Charles Coburn and Anthony Newley. It follows a man who plans to kill his wealthy Uncle George. It was based on the play Il faut tuer Julie by Didier Daix.Hyper Music/Feeling Good
"Hyper Music" and "Feeling Good" are songs by the English alternative rock band Muse from their second album Origin of Symmetry (2001), released as a double A-side single on 19 November 2001.Idol on Parade
Idol on Parade also known as Idle on Parade is a 1959 youth-oriented British comedy film produced by Warwick Films, directed by John Gilling and starring Anthony Newley, Sid James and Lionel Jeffries. It was John Antrobus' first screenplay. The film depicts the main character being called up for two years of compulsory National Service in the British military and was based on the 1958 novel Idle on Parade by William Camp which in turn was inspired by Elvis Presley's conscription into the US Army.
The film featured Newley singing five songs in a cockney accent for the film. One of the songs, "I've Waited So Long", became a pop hit, reaching No. 3 in the UK chart, and it led to a singing career which included two UK No.1s.In the Nick
In the Nick is a 1960 British comedy film directed by Ken Hughes and starring Anthony Newley, Anne Aubrey, Bernie Winters, James Booth and Harry Andrews. In the film, a gang of incompetent criminals are placed in a special type of new prison. Featured song Must Be was written by Lionel Bart.Jazz Boat
Jazz Boat is a 1960 British musical comedy film directed by Ken Hughes and starring Anthony Newley, Anne Aubrey, Lionel Jeffries and big band leader Ted Heath and his orchestra.Pure Imagination
"Pure Imagination" is a song from the 1971 film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. It was written by British composers Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley specifically for the movie. It was sung by Gene Wilder (Willy Wonka).Stop the World – I Want to Get Off
Stop the World – I Want to Get Off is a musical with a book, music, and lyrics by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley.
According to Oscar Levant, the play's title was derived from a graffito.Summertree
Summertree is a 1971 film directed by Anthony Newley. The screenplay was written by Edward Hume and Stephen Yafa, based on the 1967 play of the same name by Ron Cowen.The Bandit of Zhobe
The Bandit of Zhobe is a 1959 British CinemaScope adventure film directed by John Gilling and starring Victor Mature, Anne Aubrey and Anthony Newley. In British India a bandit goes on a rampage in the mistaken belief that the British have killed his family, which later proves to not be the case. It was produced by Albert Broccoli for Warwick Films and features extensive use of footage from Gilling's previous Zarak.The Candy Man
"The Candy Man" (or alternatively, "The Candy Man Can") is a song that originally appeared in the 1971 film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. It was written by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley specifically for the film. Although the original book by Roald Dahl (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) contains lyrics adapted for other songs in the film, the lyrics to "The Candy Man" do not appear in the book. The soundtrack version of the song was sung by Aubrey Woods, who played Bill the candy store owner in the film.The Joker (Anthony Newley song)
"The Joker" is a song by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley, from the 1964 musical The Roar of the Greasepaint – The Smell of the Crowd.The Roar of the Greasepaint – The Smell of the Crowd
The Roar of the Greasepaint – The Smell of the Crowd is a musical with a book, music, and lyrics by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley. The musical is best known for introducing the standards "A Wonderful Day Like Today", "Who Can I Turn To?", "Feeling Good", and "The Joker" the last of which was covered most successfully by Bobby Rydell. The show title is a transposition of the phrase "the smell of the greasepaint, the roar of the crowd," referring to the experience of theatre performers.The Small World of Sammy Lee
The Small World of Sammy Lee is a 1963 British crime film written and directed by Ken Hughes and starring Anthony Newley, Julia Foster and Robert Stephens. A peep-show compere is hunted across the seedy London underworld of Soho by debt collectors.What Kind of Fool Am I?
"What Kind of Fool Am I?" is a popular song written by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley and published in 1962. It was introduced by Anthony Newley in the musical Stop The World - I Want To Get Off. It comes at the end of Act Two to close the show. Bricusse and Newley received the 1961 Ivor Novello award for Best Song Musically and Lyrically, and the 1963 Grammy Award for Song of the Year, becoming the first Britons to do so.Who Can I Turn To?
"Who Can I Turn To?" is a popular song. It may be alternatively titled "Who Can I Turn To (When Nobody Needs Me)".
It was written by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley and published in 1964. The song was introduced in the musical The Roar of the Greasepaint – The Smell of the Crowd, which struggled in the United Kingdom in 1964 and then made a tour of the United States later that year. In 1964 Shirley Bassey recorded the song and released it as a single, however it failed to chart. Recorded by Tony Bennett, "Who Can I Turn To?" became a hit, reaching number 33 on the US pop singles chart and the top 5 of the Adult Contemporary chart. So fuelled, the musical arrived on Broadway for a successful run, and the song became one of Bennett's staples. He later re-recorded the song as a duet with Queen Latifah in 2011 on Duets II and with Gloria Estefan for his 2012 album, Viva Duets.